Monday, September 18, 2017

The GOP Has Begun To Act Like A Criminal Syndicate

The style and concern demonstrated by the law enforcement pros going after the Russian election began looking like a RICO investigation quite a while ago. There has been an historic deference toward major political parties and politicians because there were accepted norms, but the norms were violated decades ago. It’s been Republican administrations who have violated the law, and they’ve done it in broad and aggressive ways; look at Watergate; look at Iran Contra.

Perhaps the deference remained so long because so many law enforcement professionals are registered Republicans or at least express conservative values. That deference has been insulted for decades. So many of the FBI’s and other law enforcement investigations have been directed at the major financial crimes enabled by the legal latitudes given to major financial criminals by Republican legislation; these professionals have to feel insulted and demoralized that the Republicans not only ensure that violent criminals have easy access to more weapons but also that major financial crooks have easy ways of evading justice. Not only have the Republicans enabled major crime but they and their allies and operatives have begun to resemble major criminal organizations. Which may be why we are hearing more discussion of RICO strategies being used by the various investigations into the Russian election hack to put Trump in office. (Trump has been cozy with criminal gangs his whole career. No doubt he feels very much at home.)

Now the efforts to neutralize criminal investigations is being pushed and directed by White House appointees. This is one of the abuses of power that forced Nixon from office: his willingness to handicap our national security and investigative agencies in order to keep himself in power.

Has the White House neutered our counterintelligence agencies to protect Putin and Trump and the Republican Party? Is there more concern for their own Republican security than National Security? (Note NYMag story below on how the GOP keeps redirecting investigations away from Russia and Trump.)

This from Lawfareblog:

"Pompeo is not the first politician to lead the CIA, but his relentless brand of politics and close ties to Trump have led to fears that he cannot remain impartial about the Russia probe. In particular, critics worry that he will inhibit the work of the Agency’s Mission Center for Counterintelligence, which may possess damaging information about Russia’s role in last year’s election. The Center is the Agency’s hub for tracking foreign intelligence efforts in the United States, and according to the Post, a conduit to the FBI. Pompeo reportedly ordered the Center to report to him directly, which makes sense given his commitment to track down leakers and the sensitivity of the issue. But some within the Agency worry that he could use his position to discourage it from pursuing the investigation at all.”

Did the White House settle a big Russia case in NY to protect Putin and Trump? Is this why they decided to fire Preet Bharara?

This reported by BusinessInsider:

"Last summer, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney in an attempt to obtain information 'that would incriminate Hillary,'" the Democrats wrote, citing the emails he published. "Earlier this year, on May 12, 2017, the Department of Justice made an abrupt decision to settle a money laundering case being handled by that same attorney in the Southern District of New York.

"We write with some concern that the two events may be connected — and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts."

The Prevezon case garnered high-profile attention, given its ties to a $230 million Russian tax-fraud scheme and the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose suspicious death aroused international media attention and spurred the passage of the Magnitsky Act in 2012. Denis Katsyv and Veselnitskaya have become the face of Moscow's lobbying efforts against the Magnitsky Act in recent years.

Democrats now want to know whether Veselnitskaya was "involved at any point in the settlement negotiations," and they have asked Sessions to provide the committee "with the prosecution files and any other explanatory materials related to the settlement."

It appears Facebook created a huge and powerful weapon and made it available for use by the Russians––or anyone who wanted to corrupt our democracy. The only thing FB cared about was whether the trolls and bots and foreign spies and domestic fascists and racists paid for everything they wanted FB to do.

This, again, from BusinessInsider:

FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the "inauthentic" accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election.

The warrant was first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday night and the news was later confirmed by CNN.

Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller's investigation into Russia's election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump's campaign team.

"This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference 'deniers,'" said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to aim law enforcement back at the people who reported the crime and putting our counterintelligence agencies to work protecting and assisting the Russian spy agencies. Remember when Trump announced a plan to team up with Russia to find out the truth? It begins to appear the entire Republican apparatus is with the Russians.

From NYMagazine

Donald Trump’s Republican allies have always sought to discredit the Russia investigation by going on offense. (It’s impossible to defend a president who’s constantly beset by written emails by his associates accepting invitations from Russians offering election help and cackling “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” and other comically incriminating revelations.) Their first attempt at offense focused on Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, who Republicans spent days attacking as a sinister “unmasker,” until the charges against Rice quietly collapsed earlier this month.

They have found a new target: the famous dossier on Donald Trump compiled by British intelligence agent turned private investigator Christopher Steele, which they hope to use to discredit former FBI director James Comey.

If Trump is removed from office, Pence becomes president. Mike Pence, Trump’s wingman. Mike Pence, Trump’s solid defender and helpful liar. Pence has his own Russia problems, beginning with his saying last summer that Putin is “inarguably a better leader than Obama.” For Pence, the Russian dictator is “inarguably” preferable to an elected U.S. president of the other party (and a different race.)

From Bill Moyers: a timeline of Pence's culpability

Newsweek describes VP Pence's adjacence to worst things Trump people are alleged to have done.

While Pence and his office keep evading questions, his only defense appears to be cluelessness. That appears unlikely.

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